Bachelor of Science in Marine Vertebrate Biology

* For the most up to date and official degree description and requirements see the undergraduate bulletin.


The Marine Vertebrate Biology major provides students with a solid background in basic biology with an emphasis on marine vertebrate organisms such as fish, sharks, birds, turtles and marine mammals. It provides a more intensive zoology background than the Marine Sciences degree.

Students are encouraged to participate in research and internships.  Opportunities for experiential learning are available through field and laboratory courses taught at or near the Stony Brook campus and from a field station near the ocean in Southampton New York.

Most students who wish to have a career in research related to the marine environment will need to plan for graduate study. Career possibilities include research, education, or work in government agencies or non-profit organizations.

The Marine Vertebrate Biology major is administered by the School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences, one of the leading oceanographic institutions in the nation.  The School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences (SoMAS) is the center for marine research, education, and public service in the marine and environmental sciences for the State University of New York system. In addition, the SoMAS is Stony Brook University’s center for research, education, and public service in the atmospheric sciences. The SoMAS is one of the nation’s leading coastal oceanographic and atmospheric institutions, and the expertise of the SoMAS faculty places them at the forefront of addressing and answering questions about regional environmental problems, as well as problems relating to the global ocean and atmosphere. The primary focus of the SoMAS faculty is on fundamental research designed to increase understanding of the processes that characterize the coastal ocean and the atmosphere. The SoMAS is also committed to applying the results of research to solve problems arising from society’s uses and misuses of the environment. The Center includes institutes in several major areas: the Institute for Terrestrial and Planetary Atmospheres, the Living Marine Resources Institute, the Long Island Groundwater Resource Institute, and the Waste Reduction and Management Institute. The institutes and many research projects add a wealth of varied resources to education and research at Stony Brook.

The SoMAS offers undergraduate majors in atmospheric and oceanic sciences, environmental studies, marine sciences, and marine vertebrate biology, and minors in environmental studies and marine sciences. See the separate entries for atmospheric and oceanic sciences (ATM), environmental studies (ENS), and marine sciences (MAR) in the alphabetical listings of Approved Majors, Minors, and Programs. The SoMAS also offers several cooperative programs in both marine and environmental sciences with departments in the College of Arts and Sciences (Chemistry, Geosciences) and the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences (Chemical and Molecular Engineering).

An Environmental Studies Living Learning Center is available, housed in Hendrix College, which is a part of the Science and Society College. The Living Learning Center offers special programs, such as a seminar series showcasing faculty research and selected courses in the major and minor.

Research opportunities in marine sciences, atmospheric sciences, and waste management are available to undergraduates. Information on research opportunities may be found by contacting faculty directly or on the SoMAS Web site at

All students should consult with the director of undergraduate studies to design and approve an acceptable course of study before declaring the major.


Please visit the Undergraduate Bulletin for a complete listing of MVB Courses.

To find out more about jobs relating to this major, please click here to visit the Career Center webpage for the MVB major.

* For the most up to date and official degree description and requirements see the undergraduate bulletin.


1. This checklist summarizes your major/minor degree requirements. Please consult the Undergraduate Bulletin that was in place when you declared your major/minor for the official list of major/minor requirements. For details, visit

2. This checklist indicates ONLY what is required for your major or minor, and does not confirm completion of the University’s general education, upper-division, and total credit requirements. Please consult with the appropriate academic advising unit to review the remaining graduation requirements. For general advising locations, visit

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